ICM’s monthly poll for the Guardian has topline figures of CON 36%, LAB 36%, LD 13%, UKIP 7%. Since last month it shows a slump in UKIP support and a recovery for the Conservatives. As ever, the more unusual a polls findings the more careful you should be – it could be a sign of UKIP support collapsing back towards the Conservatives, or could just be sample error. In YouGov’s polls over the last month we have seen some hints of a narrowing of the Lab lead and signs of UKIP support fading, and ICM do tend to show the lowest levels of UKIP support and relatively low Lab leads – all the same it looks quite odd. I would wait and see if it is repeated in other polls before getting too over-excited.

181 Responses to “ICM show Labour and Tories neck and neck”

1 2 3 4
  1. rhaines

    “Of course this poll is rubbish, it is not good news for Labour.”


    This is the sort of insightful analysis we need more of here.

  2. The rate of consumer price index (CPI) inflation increased to 2.9% in June, up from 2.7% in May, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

    The figure, a 14-month high

    -Continued high inflation makes the cuts targeted at the poor agenda even more difficult for families to cope with.
    It is little surprise than Food Bank use has risen 200%this year alone and by 600% since 2010

  3. If the power of the press is waning, should the BBC be giving so much air time to what the papers are covering, I wonder.”

    Yes – and so should everybody. The newspapers are predominantly NOT a neutral force. Whilst this works both ways it is aso a bit one-sided. There are times though [plebgate] when the hysterical reporting of a [non?] story simply feeds on itself in the media and grows, unfairly, and out of all proportion to any known facts.

  4. I suppose the other thing that could be said about the ICM poll is that even with a rogue result the Tories can’t get a lead.

  5. “Making work pay” is a laudable aim. The problem is it is conflated with another laudable aim, which is to somehow stop people choosing to live/stay on benefits.

    But we all know that there is an inbalance between what the poorest in society who are in work, and often very hard work, are forced to live on and the amount that society, via government, decides is the minimum you CAN live on if you are unemployed, and it’s the wrong way round.

    Making work pay should be exactly that – ie offering decent, living wages, rather than reducung benefits a bit, hardy saving any money and still leaving some people in work worse off than those who are not.

  6. @Paul

    Yes maybe Paul – but it would be highly unusual for any Party in government to be ahead mid term.

    So, if we are all allowed to play that little game – quite a lot of people will be amazed that the Conservatives are level in one obviously rogue poll and between 5 & 10% in almost every other poll.

    You and others are really clutching at straws today Paul (to which you are bound to say so are the Tories -lol)
    BUT lets be open and truthful – its slowly slipping away from Labours Team Milliband and they just don’t know how to cope with it including the likes of you my musical smiley friend! lol :)

  7. Andy Burnham – do remember that he was Health Secretary for only 11 months (June 2009 – May 2010) & was responsible for setting up the Francis report into Mid-Staffs. He certainly didn’t ignore the problem as Julie Bailey & many Tory MP’s seem to be rather too keen in saying.

    The Francis Inquiry seems to be the pre-cursor to todays report but I have just been reading the Guardian in which they say:

    “Keogh’s report will say: “However tempting it may be, it is clinically meaningless and academically reckless to use such statistical measures to quantify actual numbers of avoidable deaths.”

    That is a reference to the two indicators – known as hospital standardised mortality ratios (HMSR) and summary hospital-level mortality indicator (SHMI) – which are used to flag up hospitals where apparently unusually high numbers of patients are dying. Both indicators were used by the Department of Health in February to justify the choice of those 14 hospitals for investigation. The 14 had had unusually high death rates in both 2010-11 and 2011-12, as judged by one or both indicators, it said.

    Keogh’s dismissal in such strong terms of the measures comes after media reports that there were anything up to 13,000 excess or avoidable deaths at the 14 trusts that Keogh and his team of expert inspectors have been looking into.”

    I suggest that ignorance of what HMSRs actually mean is responsible for the glaring headlines we have seen lately.

    As far as relatives of the dead are concerned, I think they have an expectation which if not realised becomes a huge issue with them.
    My own in-laws are an example of this.

    My father-in-law died recently. He had been diagnosed with lung cancer 6 weeks before he died but his death had nothing directly to do with the cancer. He bled internally from a previously unknown low platelet count.
    He was admitted to hospital at 06.30hrs with difficulty in breathing & coughing up blood – not much but some. A&E did blood tests then admitted him. Settled in ward, mother-in-law left to get clothing etc.
    Within 30mins of her having left, he had a huge bleed & died.

    Mother & sister-in-law were unhappy that he hadn’t had a blood transfusion, that he was alone when he died (so they thought) & that his death cert said bleed was cause of death so they made appt with hospital to go through records & air complaints.
    When they saw his notes & saw that in fact a blood tranfusion had been ordered & was in transit & that 3 people (2 nurses, 1 doctor) were at his bedside they accepted the hospital had actually done all they could.

    Anecdote I know & yup, I know the plural don’t make data but just an example of how relatives accuse hospitals of being wrong or uncaring when the truth is somewhat different.

  8. @Spearmint

    If NHS performance is worsening in various critical respects under Labour, it’s no surprise they might seek to pin the blame on Labour. Otherwise they take the hit for any worsening and have no comeback.

    It may not work, but if they don’t have anything else…

    Will it work? Well it’s a bit odd to suggest the previous government were fostering cover-ups if they implemented the system that is revealing the problems.

    And if we take the economy as another example, Labour have probably been fingered with more blame than they were on leaving office. But it’s not like the Tories poll great on the economy and many are clearly not impressed with austerity as a solution.

    Maybe that’s the government calculation. That they may not improve their standing on the NHS but at least they can knock Labour’s standing somewhat. This is a bigger ask on the NHS than on the economy perhaps, as Labour have always been committed to the NHS and founded it.

    Also, as time passes the “blame the last lot” gambit wears ever more thinly. And Tories make other errors that can’t be attributed to Labour very credibly, eg the 111 issues. So if there is doubt, they may side with Labour.

    Perhaps the bigger issue is that it’s yet another example of firefighting instead of having good news to sell. If the government is frequently having to find ways to pin bad stuff on the opposite, there’s probably too much bad stuff.

    We can see this in other areas, eg the school places shortage. They have to try and blame Labour even though the government hammered the existing school buildings programme almost as soon as taking office.

    A preferable position for them might be if the oppo are trying to claim credit for good stuff.

  9. First line should read…

    “If NHS performance is worsening in various critical respects under the COALITION, it’s no surprise they might seek to pin the blame on Labour.”

  10. CON 36%, LAB 36%, LD 13%, UKIP 7%

    ICM polls are virtually a prediction, given all the adjustments which they make. They are spot on with Labour & – were they to correctly adjust for UKIP & tactical votes by ABL Tories for LD – they’d be closer to:

    CON 30%, LAB 36%, LD 18%, UKIP 11%

    which is the correct prediction for 2015, because it’s my forecast – made ages ago – of what the actual result will be. ;-)

    I hope people found the crystal ball more entertaining than me writing: “Outlier” or some such. :-)

  11. @ Amber,

    How did your crystal ball get the Tories as low as 30? Genuinely curious- that would be their lowest result ever, wouldn’t it?

  12. If Clegg ’15 beats Ashdown ’97 for vote share and has an endorsement of his direction for the party, a lot of SLF Lib Dems are going to find themselves politically homeless.

    30.7% was the worst Tory result for over a century – I wonder if they’ll dip below it again?

  13. @ CHORDATA

    Agree with your post about stats.

    My experience of the NHS is mixed. A relative of mine died in the 1990’s, under the Tories. I would say that a lack of care and appropriate treatment was the cause of their death. A work colleague had a relative nearly die in the same hospital in very similar circumstances. As far as I know this Hospital has never been subject to any investigation. But as this Hospital is the major trauma unit within the region, then I expect that any higher than expected death rates would not be viewed as unexpected.

    Another relative had a medical issue, seeing various Doctors without getting a correct diagnosis. Only by going private and paying for more tests did they obtain a proper diagnosis, allowing for correct treatment. The NHS is a rationed system coping with high volumes and therefore it is not always going to deliver high performance in all areas, without there being problems.

    The way stats are handled can be misleading and I am not sure any government has introduced any NHS performance monitoring system that has a chance of working. The Care Quality Commission reviews in many cases have been found to be inaccurate.

  14. Burnham’s on the attack armed with Keogh already at Health Qs, so either Labour think this is going to play well for them or they’re hoping to throw up enough chaff by pointing fingers at the Coalition to defuse it.

  15. SN

    “BUT lets be open and truthful ”

    Go on then….


    Amber: in 2015 cons and lab will get more, LD less I feel. They [we] mostly don’t want another coaition and they will know the simple way to avoid it now – very clearly.

  16. I’d put it at Con 31, Lab 38, Lib 14, so a little different.

  17. R Huckle
    “The NHS is a rationed system coping with high volumes and therefore it is not always going to deliver high performance in all areas, without there being problems.”

    Nail on head.

    I’ve just read that Prof Jarman, whose figures all this has emanated from, has admitted this morning that he only informed Andy Burnham in March 2010.
    Considering that Parliament was dissolved on 12th April 2010, it’s completely unreasonable to say that Burnham ignored Jarmans warnings – he didn’t have time to do anything other than to leave warnings for the govt.

  18. @Paulcroft

    Hit the nail on the head there Paul – ‘they’ will indeed know what to do to avoid another Coalition Government and of course to prevent us going right back to square one with regard to Tax and Spend/Debt.
    So thats all that sorted out then.
    Roll on May 2015 – lol :)

  19. SN –

    Can you name for me the last election in which a ruling party increased its vote share at a subsequent election?

  20. Mr Nameless,

    October 1974.

    Other examples include 1966, 1951, 1931 (the Tories had entered government before the election), 1922, 1906, and 1900.

    The Tories also increased their absolute vote in 1992 and there are probably other examples of that happening.

    However, even if all of these examples didn’t exist, your point would lack any substance, since the number of elections the UK has had is not a statistically big enough sample for casual inductive inferences and there are very few elections that took place under even vaguely similar circumstances.


    “Can you name for me the last election in which a ruling party increased its vote share at a subsequent election?”


    It’s a battle of the heuristics!! Or yardsticks, rules-of-thumb or whatever one wishes to call them.

    Governments don’t tend to increase their vote share, vs. Oppositions don’t tend to get elected unless they’ve achieved at least a 20% lead at some point.

    Or… oppositions don’t often get ready-elected after being out of power for just one term, vs. Tories haven’t won an election outright since ages ago, are in long-term decline etc…

    Mr Nameless,
    “October 1974.
    Other examples include 1966, 1951, 1931 (the Tories had entered government before the election), 1922, 1906, and 1900.”


    Dunno about the earlier ones, but worth noting that ’74, ’66, and ’51 are all special cases, in that they occurred after a government went back to the electorate shortly after the election.

    As opposed to serving a full term, as now. Agree with your general point however… These rules are made to be broken, because they aren’t really rules…

  23. @ Spearmint

    How did your crystal ball get the Tories as low as 30? Genuinely curious- that would be their lowest result ever, wouldn’t it?
    You might have moved on to the next thread but nevertheless, I will answer:

    The Tories got 36 in 2010. They will lose some of that vote to don’t knows who won’t vote, some to UKIP & some to LD (Anybody But Labour) but LD will lose more of their left to Labour than they gain from Con (hence their drop to 18).

  24. @ Amber,

    I checked back to make sure I hadn’t done something snipworthy, so I’ve seen your comment. Thanks for answering!

  25. Carfrew,

    If we confine ourselves to the question “have there been any elections since 1918 which have served a full term and increased their percentage of the vote as opposed to their absolute share of the vote?”, then we are making the question fit the answer.

    We know that the Tories were able to get a larger absoluter share of the vote in 1992 than in 1979, i.e. after 13 years of government, the Poll Tax, Westland, a bitter outsting of a leader, 3 million unemployed in two different recessions, and with a leader rejected by the media if not by the public, the Tories could poll higher than when they initially got elected. So the idea that there is some magnetic force that will stop the Tories getting more than 36.1% of the vote is very dubious. If they don’t increase their vote share (and I doubt they will) it will be due to failures in government and/or Labour counteracting some advantages that minority governing parties have e.g. “Vote for us and get strong government!”

    Incidentally, just two years ago we saw the SNP hugely increase their percentage share of the vote in Scotland. In fact, as soon as one goes outwith Westminister, it’s impossible to get even a heavily qualified version of this generalisation to work.

  26. Bill P

    There IS, however, the issue that the Tories have found it extremely difficult to get up to 40% VI over the last generation. Even when given the circumstances of their dreams in 2008, they peaked at something around 45% and have fallen at a rate of 2.5-3% p.a. ever since.

    Seems to me that there is a ceiling of mid-30s for the Tories these days, in all but the best possible circumstances. If that is a correct conclusion, the Tories are going to have to be at the very top if their game, and hope for a very favourable wind in the run up to 15 if they are going to match their 2010 performance.

  27. @AmberStar

    CON 30%, LAB 36%, LD 18%, UKIP 11%

    which is the correct prediction for 2015, because it’s my forecast – made ages ago – of what the actual result will be. ;-)

    I’ll bet against that.

    Con will get more than 30. More like 34 or 35.
    Lab.. about right.
    LD will get less. More like 13 or 14.

  28. LeftyLampton,

    The fact that they got up to 45% in 2008 suggests to me that what matters has largely been the situation they are in: either a party in meltdown (1992-2005) or against a still-fairoy popular centrist government (2005-2007, including a brief period where Brown basically gave Labour a few months of being a totally new government) or a party implementing austerity.

    I don’t think the Tories are complacent so much as unhappy in government: they’re restricted both by the Lib Dems and by austerity, so no annual cuts in the basic rate and few blue-cheese policies. I imagine we’ll see a similar sort of wearing-down of Labour in the next parliament, as they find themselves repeatedly unable to offer their base anything and find their voters drifting to the Greens, nationalists, and even UKIP.

  29. @BillP

    You are pushing at an open door, as I am largely in agreement with you.

    But I wasn’t making the question fit the answer. I was making the question fit the SITUATION, ie the current situation with a government going the distance, as opposed to quickly returning to the electorate.

1 2 3 4